Buying a present has always been a vexing task for me. The tedium starts from a preliminary question – Is it necessary? Although the answer to it is a vehement ‘yes’, thanks to an over-zealous heart that is looking for constant ways to share and display love for fellow human beings, a wretched thought soon sneaks in to derail the spirit. That nothing I buy will be good enough to please the taker.
Let me put down the hard facts and make a confession. It’s not as if we are flush with cash for a pricey, niche present that can make their eyes pop out. I only allocated a modest number for the present and I desperately looked for options that fit the bill and worth. Add to it the thought that in all probability, the gift might be ‘unwanted’ and will occupy some anonymous corner of their house until it is pawned on to someone else or cleared off during Spring. These damning concerns were such dampeners on my enthusiasm. And there was no way I could let material considerations dilute my affections.
Which was how I slowly I began to disassociate the ostentation of presents from the sanctity of sentiments. It dawned on me that if love carried a price tag on it, then it was no love at all; if the quality of our endearment is measured by monetary factors, then there was no genuine engagement at all; if giving and receiving had a material band-width, then we were involved in a trade deal and not human connections. All that mattered was, from what depth of our hearts we loved and remembered each other.
Slowly, I began to lodge memories of people in odd things like gift bows, empty sweet boxes, hamper baskets, old hand-written letters, pieces of broken bangles etc. I still use the apron a friend and room-mate sewed for me more than three decades ago with my name stitched into it, the book mark my 5-yo student made for me two years ago, and several other things that have no utilitarian value except that of reviving and reminding me of the love they had/have for me.
Now, I don’t wrack my brains thinking about gifts. Those who know my sentiment for them and its profundity need no proof of it. Those who don’t, will not have a need for it. Yet, I find my own ways to tell them what they mean to me by investing my time for them. I write poems for them, I make small paintings, doodle on cards with positive lines, send flowers, bake cakes, rustle up special dishes, gift my books, write mails, make surprise calls, record a song and keep looking for new ways to let them know that I care more than I can show or tell.
I now find people’s affection in small, spontaneous gestures that come from their heart, unhindered by external influences. I melt with gratitude when someone goes an extra mile to help me or make me happy. It takes no effort to recognize true fondness and affinity. It manifests in unimaginable ways.
And as I ride through the alleys and highways of life, kind words, small acts, solemn thoughts and pristine love are all that I would want to give and take from the world.